Electric Pool Heaters

An electric pool heater will keep your pool warm all season long using electrical resistance that transforms heat from an element to your pool water as it passes through it. They are best suited for small pools, above ground pools or hot tubs and have limitations when it comes to heating ability and efficiency. If you are in the market for an energy efficient heater capable of heating large pools we recommend taking a look at pool heat pumps.  

electric pool heater

Electric swimming pool heaters aren't known for their energy efficiency but they make up for it by being very easy to install, set up and operate. Their compact design makes them ideal for pool areas with limited space and provides a neat appearance. All they require is an electrical source with a slight modification to the main circuit breaker. An electric pool heater operates on electrical power and might be your only option if you live where there is no natural gas lines or a large propane tank won't fit. 

How an Electric Pool Heater Works

An electric pool heater works by heating water that's circulated through the pool plumbing via the pump and filter system. An element in the assembly housing, inside the heater is superheated by electricity, similar to a stove, hair dryer or space heater in your home. This process is repeated until the desired water temperature is reached or the system is powered off. The simplicity of how an electric pool heater works make it an attractive option for some pool owners. 

Electric Pool Heater Pros and Cons

Electric pool heater pros and cons will give you a snapshot of how they compare to other pool heaters. The bottom line is that they are really only a great option if you have a small pool or you don't have access to natural gas or propane.


  • Easy to install and operate
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Average time to heat speed
  • No gas required to operate 


  • Only suitable for small pools
  • Expensive to operate
  • Requires electrical upgrade during installation

Electric Pool Heaters vs Gas Pool Heaters

Electric swimming pool heaters are similar to gas pool heaters in design except that instead of a heater exchanger heated by natural gas or propane, an element is super heated with electrical resistance energy. Electric heaters are smaller in comparison, designed for lower volume pools but aren't ideal for heating a pool larger than 15,000 gallons. 

Electric and gas pool heaters are both designed to provide "on demand" heat. They are great for providing quick heat similar to a furnace in a house, but aren't very efficient or cost effective if you require constant heat. A gas heater will heat slightly faster than an electric pool heater under similar conditions. The cost to operate an electric and gas heater are very similar depending on your local rates, whereas a heat pump heater is substantially cheaper to operate. 

heater comparison

Electric Pool Heater vs Pool Heat Pumps

Electric pool heaters and pool heat pumps are both powered by electricity but that is where the similarity ends. An electric pool heater generates heat energy from the electrical resistance inside the heater coil, and a pool heat pump converts heat energy from the surrounding air.

A pool heat pump will operate most efficiently in warm weather and can cost up to 85% less than electric resistance heaters. The only conditions where an electric heater will outperform a heat pump heater is when air temperatures drop below 50℉ or 10℃. As temperatures drop, the efficiency of heat pumps drops, while an electric or gas heater will remain constant. 

An electric pool heater is ideal for fast intermittent heating and a pool heat pump is ideal for constant all season heating. It's also becoming more common to find systems that utilize the best of both heating worlds - they use a pool heat pump for the warm months during the summer and gas or electric heating for extending the season into the cooler months. 

Electric Pool Heater Cost

Electric pool heater cost is comparable to gas heaters in all areas except it might cost more to have an electric heater installed because of the higher electrical current. The increased electrical current demands often means you need to make alterations to your electrical supply panel as well as wiring upgrades. 

The cost to install an electric pool heater averages about $500-$750. This is slightly more than other heater installations because of modifications including a double pole breaker. The average cost to purchase an electric pool heater is about $750-$1,500. The cost per month to operate electric swimming pool heaters is roughly $500 a month for a pool with 1,000 square feet of surface area. 

Electric Pool Heater Sizing Guide

Electric pool heater sizing is really simple and takes into consideration the time to heat your pool based on water volume and size of the heater. A properly sized electric pool heater will raise water temperature 1℉ to 1.5℉ every hour under ideal weather conditions. The time to heat will vary with fluctuating air temperature, pool usage, wind and if a cover is being used or not. 

The manufacturer will have sizing information including a sizing calculator where all you need to do is input the volume of your pool to determine heating speeds. You can then make an informed decision based on budget and the time to heat speed that you want. 

Best Electric Pool Heater

The best electric heaters on the market today are as energy efficient as it gets. The reason is because they are historically knows as being very expensive to operate. In an attempt to make them appealing to consumers they've come up with technology in recent years that delivers efficiency as high as 99.8%.

The EcoSmart electric tankless pool heater is the best electronic pool heater on the market today. It boasts an almost perfect 100% energy efficiency rating and state of the art electric heating technology. This heater is ideal for above ground pools including Intex hardware as well as for salt water pools. 


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